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Electric vehicles can benefit many fleets with varying profiles

Energy Saving Trust consultant Karl Anders told ACFO Electric Vehicle Seminar delegates: ‘What we have learned from our research and analysis across many different types of fleet operation is that there is no single bespoke profile.’

Critically fleets must balance the higher procurement cost of electric vehicles when compared with petrol and diesel models with lower in-life operating costs.

As a result, said Anders: ‘When analysing electric vehicles it is necessary to look at different replacement cycle and mileage profiles to the standard three years/60,000 miles or four years/80,000 miles for petrol or diesel models.

‘The challenge is to identify an electric vehicle opportunity and understand the whole life costs across different mileage patterns. One size does not fit all. It is all about finding the sweet spot over a longer replacement cycle.’

When fleet managers seek to identify electric vehicle opportunities other key considerations in addition to the mileage profile also include recharging opportunities and limitations and vehicle specification with payload limitations, he explained.

Vehicle leasing and fleet management company Alphabet has launched AlphaElectric in a bid to encourage corporate demand for electric vehicles.

Nigel Trotman, strategic fleet consultant at Alphabet and an ACFO member, said: ‘We feel very positive towards electric vehicles. It is all about fleets getting the optimal blend of internal combustion engine (petrol/diesel) models and electric vehicles in realising any cost and carbon dioxide (CO2) savings.’

Research by the company among fleet mangers in the UK, France and Germany identified five key hurdles that needed to be overcome in encouraging electric vehicle adoption: Fleet suitability of electric vehicles, cost, residential and work place recharging, access to public recharging and range anxiety.

An analysis of nine vehicles over a six-week period on one client’s fleet revealed that only three of the cars were not suitable to be replaced with electric models. Of the other six models one was ripe for electric vehicle substitution with the remaining five potentially suitable if charged mid-journey or an alternative petrol/diesel model was available for some journeys.

As a result, Alphabet concluded the fleet, which has yet to make a final decision as to whether or not to go along the electric vehicle route, could cut operating costs by 13% and reduce CO2 emissions by 66%.

Trotman said: ‘Getting vehicle recharging right is absolutely key to running a successful electric vehicle fleet.’

Additionally, it is critical to educate drivers on vehicle recharging with available electric vehicles presently equipped with either a five or seven pin connection and different modes of recharging available – standard, slow fast charging and rapid charging.

There are presently around 18,000 electric vehicle recharging points across the UK and Peter Lunt, Energy Saving Trust fleet consultant, said: ‘There is an increasingly wide and varied recharging infrastructure. Drivers need to be aware of that, particularly prior to setting off on a journey.’

Natalie Middleton

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